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Film / Guilty of Romance

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It's Sono. You know it's going to be creepy.
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Guilty of Romance is an Asian erotic thriller by Sion Sono, released in 2011.

The narration begins as a brutal murder case in Shibuya, Tokyo (a love hotel district) leaves many questions unanswered. Since the corpse is mutilated beyond recognition (other than it being female), the police can only work off a list of women missing. With this the story takes a turn and centers on the backstory of one of the women missing. Her name is Izumi and she is the wife of a well-known writer of naive romantic novels. Her daily life is dictated by his well-mannered life style. Things change when she is called to a model agency, making her find new respect for her body and starting to use it to seduce men, being unfaithful to her husband. Her journey of self-discovery soon leads her into Shibuya where she makes the acquaintance of the prostitute Mitsuko who works as a professor at a university in the daytime. Izumi is fascinated by her and follows her through the streets of the district, which is the beginning of a downward spiral without turning back.

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Guilty of Romance contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Mitsuko’s mother wishes her dead and even tries to kill her.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Izumi, Mitsuko, and also Kazuko in the director’s cut are depicted as lustful. It’s not like the male characters are any better though.
  • Anachronic Order: The narration of Kazuko’s investigations takes place after the story of Izumi, though both of them are told simultaneously.
  • Anti-Villain: Mitsuko, in some ways.
  • Arc Words: "I should have never learned words."
  • Asshole Victim: The pimp meets his gruesome end by the hands of Mitsuko’s mother.
  • Author Appeal: Sono seems to like the name Mitsuko a lot.
  • Beneath the Mask: Izumi’s husband is described by her as „pure“, while in reality, he has been a customer of Mitsuko for years. Making out with her is even his way of getting new ideas for his kitchy romance stories.
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  • Call-Back: The end of the director’s cut is a call-back to a scene where Kazuko’s being told of an incident of a woman who followed a garbage truck into the district of Shibuya.
  • Character Development: Kind of a depressing one, even though Izumi herself is experiencing the development as a positive one during the first half of the movie.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Izumi’s husband is shown as this with his innocent romance novels.
  • Crapsack World: As in many other works of Sono.
  • Deal with the Devil: Not in a literal sense, but the relationship between Izumi and Mitsuko can be seen as this.
  • The Dragon: The pimp, in a way, assuming Mitsuko is the Big Bad.
  • Re-Cut: There is a director’s cut that is half an hour longer than the international version. It digs deeper into the character of detective Kazuko.
  • Downer Ending
  • Evil Mentor: Mitsuko to Izumi.
  • Fanservice: Particularly the beginning of the director’s cut.
  • Fan Disservice: There’s a LOT of this in the movie.
  • Fetish: The pimp seems to have one for exploding pink water ballons.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Subverted. Most people will assume that Izumi is the woman that was murdered, when later it is revealed that it is acutally Mitsuko who has been strangled by Izumi.
  • How We Got Here: The story of Izumi serves as this for Kazuko’s murder investigations.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Invoked by the depiction of Mitsuko’s customers in particular, since all of them seem to be overly lustful and violent.
  • Jerkass: Izumi’s husband at the end.
  • Lady in Red: Mitsuko.
  • Living a Double Life: Mitsuko is a case of Naughty by Night with Izumi following her example as the story proceeds.
  • Offing the Offspring: Mitsuko’s mother tries to kill her in one scene. Mitsuko reacts by provoking her to do it. After Mitsuko is killed by Izumi, her mother dismembers her body.
  • Only Sane Man: Kazuko’s husband seems to be this in the director’s cut.
  • Red Light District: The story centers around the red light district Shibuya in Tokyo.
  • Sanity Slippage: Basically the whole movie, climaxing in a very insane finale.
  • Sex Is Evil: Mitsuko’s mother seems to think this. She doesn’t seem to mind murder and dismemberment though.
  • Shout-Out: The Castle by Franz Kafka.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Cold Fish. Both tell basically similar stories. Cold Fish’s protagonists are male instead of female though, and it also focuses more on violence than on sexuality (even though both are important in both movies).
  • The Reveal: Izumi’s husband’s relationship to Mitsuko. Made even more vicious by Mitsuko having been aware of it all the time.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: A very extraordinary case. Mitsuko makes Izumi demand money for her extramarital sex, explaining that she has to value highly her own body.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Izumi. Kazuko in the director's cut. Also, Izumi’s husband.
  • You Would Make a Great Model: Izumi is told this.
  • Women Are Delicate: Averted in this film. Some of the female characters act like it, but none of them really are.
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